Thursday, July 21, 2011

Would you rather...?

We don't have air conditioning. On days like today (and weeks like this week), we droop. And drip. And get a little cranky. We don't sleep all that well at night, and we drink gallons of ice water and cold green tea during the day. The kids take bathing-suit baths together, soaking the mat no matter how often I tell them not to splash.

We have fans: one ceiling, two good Vornados, and two window units made in a country where, apparently, there are engineers who have mastered the art of designing blades that spin but do not propel air. We (usually) get a breeze off the river, though that doesn't help much at 97 degrees and 95% humidity. But on a day like today, even the thought of moving air counts.
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Years ago, straight out of college, I lived in Puerto Rico. On the hot, humid weekends of summer I took cold showers and lay under my ceiling fan until I awoke from the nap I hadn't known I'd taken. Then I'd get up to shower and fall asleep again. I had weird dreams, the sort that ended with falling in a puddle. I took to sleeping on a beach towel to absorb the sweat.

Once I awoke from a mid-afternoon nap and discovered a swarm of large, black ants on the floor, thousands of them. Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed my broom and swept them out the door. Despite my subsequent nightmares, they never came back.

But the little lizards -- the ones whose tails snapped off into wriggling question marks that wondered Where did my body go? -- they returned every day.

Once on a hazy weekend I went snorkeling on a reef with an acquaintance. Our inflatable boat came unmoored, and we had to swim half a mile after it across a bay where sharks were known to prowl. I do not recall being hot on that day, only terrified. Never swam faster in my life, though.

And as I sit in my city apartment, drowsing my way through this hot day, I play a game: Would you rather swim with sharks, or swelter your way through July without air conditioning?


  1. Swelter in July! We have been :) And btw I've read through a lot of your book- the essays are so good, and I'm really glad you sent it to me :)

  2. I'm guessing I'd rather swelter than risk being eaten alive. Although, I'm not sure how well I'd take it since I'm a wimp in the heat. The 80's is considered a heat wave over here. :-) BTW, I just saw the ad for your book. I'll be checking it out. Sounds like a great gift for a new or expecting mom!

  3. The idea of sharks as terrors is understandable, but not accurate. We are not on their food chain. More injuries and deaths can be attributed to domestic pets than sharks. Look at the movie trailer for a shark conservation/ awareness film friends of mine produced. I have been on shark dives with Jim. That being said, I would rather be underwater with a shark than on the surface above him! And, I would much rather a shark than an alligator who is happy to include us on their food chain.